Psoriasis and Non Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity

What is psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a skin condition similar to eczema where there are reddened, inflamed patches of skin, capped with white dead skin which is in the process of sloughing off.

The skin cells are in the process of dividing far more quickly than normal skin does which is why you can often tell where someone with psoriasis has been. They leave a tell-tale scattering of dead skin (like really bad dandruff) on the floor which is particularly noticeable in bedrooms.

Psoriasis is often found close to the bones.  In this case on the scalp.
Psoriasis is often found close to the bones. In this case on the scalp.

The photo above shows a patch of psoriasis with a cap of skin cells on the right hand side. It is lumpy in appearance. The very red area over on the left hand side shows the inflammation visible once the cap has fallen off.

A number of people with psoriasis also suffer from psoriatic arthritis where the inflammation is internal around the joints.

What causes psoriasis?

Until recently no one really knew why some people developed psoriasis and others didn’t although there are plenty of theories. There does seem to be a genetic component to it though, which there isn’t with eczema. Eczema seems to be a response to environmental triggers, psoriasis is not. Psoriasis is exacerbated by stress and it does seem to respond to diet. It is also definitely linked to NCGS and may be caused by leaky gut in the same way as other inflammatory responses in the body. One other thing is clear and that is that once you have developed psoriasis, you will always have it to one degree or another however there is now growing evidence that it responds to removal of gluten from the diet.

An antipsoriatic diet

There are four main food groups implicated in aggravating this skin condition: gluten containing, dairy, legumes and FODMAPs.

Gluten and wheat contribute to the formation of leaky gut (explained here) which triggers an inflammatory response in the body. The inflammation can manifest in many ways with skin conditions being just one.

Because wheat contains over 23,000 proteins, once you become sensitive to it you also run the risk of developing sensitivities to other food stuffs which contain identical or very similar proteins. It is very common for someone who is sensitive to wheat to also be sensitive to dairy; slightly less common for legumes to pose a problem but not unusual.

FODMAPs are carbohydrates rather than proteins so they seem to be an strange addition to the ‘please avoid’ list. FODMAP is shorthand for ‘Fermentable, Oglio-, Di-, Monosaccharides And Polyol’ all of which are short chain carbohydrates, poorly absorbed in the gut.

Again, the diet recommended for psoriasis is very similar to that recommended for NCGS where the above triggers are identified and eliminated.

So if your brain fog has lifted, your mood and energy lifted but psoriasis is still a problem, it may just be that there is something more you are reacting to.

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